I rode to work for the first time in 2010 yesterday. It's a 22.78 mile ride each way - downhill going to work, uphill coming home.
Temperatures were cold yesterday. Some parts of New England got snow. We experienced temperatures in the low 30 F range. I bundled up before I left. I had a hat under my helmet, gloves, tights, a t-shirt, a sweatshirt, and a windbreaker over the top. You can only put on so many pairs of socks before your shoes won't fit, so I was limited to a single pair.
I pumped up my tires to 100 PSI and pushed off at 5:55 AM. It was light enough to be safe, but I hedged my bets by hanging a strobe light on my seat post.
There's a slight downhill just beyond my driveway, so it's easy to build up some momentum right out of the gate. That 15-20 mph breeze sure felt cold! I started pumping my pedals to build up some heat. Soon my torso felt comfortable, but my fingers and toes stayed cold through the whole ride.
The plan calls for me to meet my friend at a pre-arranged corner at 6:30 AM. We have the timing down pat, because he was standing at the corner as I steamed down the road. He said he'd been waiting for less than a minute before I came into sight around the bend.
The ride was a pleasant one, as always. I love the riding, especially since I get to do it with my best friend. We kept up a steady stream of conversation as we made our way down the bike trail.
We parted ways after ninety minutes. I continued alone for the short distance to the Founders Bridge that takes me over the Connecticut River and into Hartford. It was a great feeling to ride into town under my own power in just 1:40. I parked my bike in the garage and made my way to the place where I swim to get a hot shower. That warm water was essential - my feet were numb! I needed a little heat to walk naturally.
I felt good all day long. My legs felt fine when I went up and down stairs - a good sign. When my legs aren't strong I groan with pain on stairs.
I made sure to eat a salad for lunch. Later in the afternoon I bought a bottle of Gatorade that would fit into my water bottle cage and two Cliff Bars (chocolate chip) for a snack. I ate the first one just before I left to make sure that I had some fuel in the tank.
I did something different when I left my desk to ride home. Last year I'd leave my biking clothes in the locker room, which meant having to cross the street to dress and then come back to get the bike. I carried my stuff in a backpack and changed in the bathroom down the hall from my desk in order to save some time. I was able to be on my bike in ten minutes after leaving, which makes a big difference.
I rode back across the Connecticut River and met my friend on the east side. Going home is always harder than the morning ride: it's uphill and the fatigue from the morning hasn't dissipated. The wind was gusting out of the west when we left, but temperatures were much more comfortable. We made good time, but I was starting to feel tired by the time we parted. My left knee felt sore, too. I ate my second Cliff bar and finished the last of the Gatorade. After a few minutes I was able to push my biggest gear without difficulty. I made it home in 1:46, which is a pretty good time for the first ride of the year.
My knee felt a little tender that night, but the soreness wasn't too bad. I went for a swim before work the next morning. I did the usual 5x200 pull warm-up, a 5x200 IM set, and finished with 5x100 alternating kicking with a board and one-arm drill. My legs felt great when I was done. My left knee was fine. I did a little downward facing dog to stretch out my lower back. I felt energetic and strong all day.
I haven't had my best April for swimming. It was only slightly better than an average April, so my string of "best months" starting 2010 was ended.
it'll be good to mingle swimming and biking together. I enjoy riding so much. As long as I can stay upright and avoid getting hurt, this is a fun time of year for me. All spring and summer are ahead of us. This year it'll last forever and never end.
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